For the first time in Northern Ireland’s history, Catholics outnumber Protestants, a newly released census has revealed.
The 2021 poll shows that 42.3% now identify as Catholic, compared to 37.3% as Protestant or other Christian religions.
In the last census in 2011, 45% of the population identified themselves as Catholic and 48% as Protestant or other Christian religions.
In 2001, 53% of residents said they were Protestant, 44% Catholic.
The turning point in Northern Ireland – struck 101 years ago and suffering decades of sectarian violence in the late 20th century – is likely to embolden those pushing for reunification with the Republic of Ireland.
Protestants generally support Northern Ireland remaining part of the United Kingdom, while Catholics usually want closer ties with their southern neighbors.
Calls to join Ireland and leave the UK fueled the violent clashes of The Troubles, which began in the late 1960s and killed an estimated 3,500 people.
The conflict ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which attempted to balance the powers of Catholics and Protestants.